ABOUT twenty years ago the tide of Chinese coolie laborers assumed such proportions that the Chinese exclusion act was enacted to protect the Pacific states from the horde of yellow parasites which threatened their prosperity. The radical step of legislating against a race was taken after due deliberation, and recognition of its urgent necessity. The Chinese exclusion act has worked fairly well, and in 1901 was reenacted. It is not perfect, and evasions have been frequent, as might be expected in a people fertile in resource and schooled in trickery and deceit, as are the Mongolians, but on the whole the object aimed at has been attained. It has kept out the mass of yellow coolies who would otherwise have come here, and has practically confined the question of Chinese coolie labor to the Pacific coast, whereas, without it, we should have had the coolie labor in Illinois, Pennsylvania and every other state in the Union.
One of the many methods employed by Chinese in evading the exclusion law is of particular interest because of its bearing on illegal naturalization of aliens. Naturalization of Chinese is often an incident of a successful attempt to evade the Chinese exclusion law. A Chinaman arrested in crossing the Canadian border will claim he is a native of the United States and is able to produce Chinese witnesses who will swear to his nativity. He is not only admitted, but is admitted as an American citizen—and his children born in China will also be entitled to admission to the United States and undoubtedly in time will also claim citizenship. An officer detailed to examine the conditions existing upon the Canadian border, in his report to Hon. F. P. Sargent, Commissioner-General of Immigration, makes the following statement, published in the 'Commissioner-General's Report' for 1903:
Hon. F. P. Sargent,
Commissioner-General of Immigration, Washington, D. C.
Sir:. . . To acquaint myself with all that might bear on the subject, I called at the Chinese bureaus at New York and Boston, conversed with the Chinese inspectors and interpreters, attended the trial of cases at Ogdensburg, interviewed the Chinese themselves at different points in their own language, read whatever notices I saw in Chinese, called at their stores, schools, restaurants and laundries, and at every opportunity gathered what information I could on the subject.